Thanksgiving is upon us. Here is what every National League team in Major League Baseball has to be thankful for.
Atlanta Braves: Youthful, Star Duo
The Braves brokeout to win the National League East in 2018, and the young combo of Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies was a driving force in their ability to do so. The two hit .293 and .261 a piece, combined for 50 home runs and 136 RBIs, and fielded their positions well. Acuna and Albies are a promising young duo.
Washington Nationals: Stout Starting Rotation Duo
The featured aspect of the Nationals is the top of their rotation, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in particular. Scherzer is one of the five best starting pitchers in the sport and, when healthy, Strasburg is a potent force. The two right-handers make for one of the best rotation duos in the sport.
Philadelphia Phillies: Stout Starting Rotation Duo
The Phillies have some intriguing position players in place, but the rotation duo of Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta is the most reliable aspect of their ballclub. Nola was a finalist for the National League Cy Young Award this season, and Arrieta is one of the most reliable right-handers in the sport.
New York Mets: Starting Rotation
The Mets starting rotation, for the most part, stayed healthy this season. Jacob deGrom won the NL Cy Young Award; Noah Syndergaard was a force to be reckoned with, when healthy; Zack Wheeler finally came into his own as a reliable top-of-the-rotation arm; Steven Matz is a reliable starter. Overall, the Mets starting rotation is amongst the elite.Every National League club has something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Here's @RPStratakos with the rundown.Click To Tweet
Miami Marlins: Jose Urena
The Marlins are looking for players to build around and starters to hold onto; Urena is an arm to keep intact. Over the last two years, he’s been their most consistent and reliable starter. Coming off a season in which he pitched a career-high 174.0 innings and recorded a 3.98 ERA, the Marlins have to be enthused by what the future holds for the 27-year-old right-hander.
Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich
The Brewers advanced to the National League Championship Series in 2018, and the acquisition of Yelich was an enormous reason for their deep playoff run. Hitting a career-high .326 while totaling 36 home runs and 110 RBIs and continuing to be an elite fielder, Yelich was crowned with the NL Most Valuable Player of the Year Award; he’s now the face of the Brewers.
Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez
While their season ended early via the NL Wild Card Game, Baez continued to assert himself as a franchise player for the Cubs in 2018. Coming off a year in which he was an NL MVP finalist after hitting a career-best .290, totaling 34 home runs and 111 RBIs, and playing around the infield, Baez may be the Cubs’ best player.
St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Carpenter
Carpenter has always been a franchise cornerstone and one of the best infielders in baseball, but last season he was the driving force of the Cardinals push for an NL Wild Card seeding. Going on a tear late in the year and blasting a career-high 36 home runs, Carpenter was one of the hardest outs in the NL and an MVP consideration.
Pittsburg Pirates: Young Outfield
The Pirates have one of the more underrated futures in baseball, and their outfield is a big reason for such a notion. Corey Dickerson (29) hit .300 for the third time in his career and recorded just one error in 2018; Gregory Polanco (27) is a source of power in the Pirates order and has held his own in right field; Starling Marte (30) is a proven commodity and a career .286 hitter.
Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto
The Reds are years away from making a return to the playoffs, but they still have one of the best players in baseball in Votto. Despite a down year at the plate, hitting .284 and driving in just 67 runs, he’s one of the most disciplined hitters and defensive first basemen in baseball.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Turner
The Dodgers are one of the most complete teams in baseball and have won the NL Pennant in back-to-back seasons. But one could argue that without Turner they wouldn’t have made the postseason in 2018. They began the year 16-24 without him, and Turner’s elite defensive play and .317 average over the last two seasons is irreplaceable.
Colorado Rockies: Star Infield Duo
The Rockies have made the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, and the infield duo of Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story is a focal point of their recent success. The two infielders combined for 75 home runs and 218 RBIs and each hit over .290 in 2018. They’re also great fielders and were each considered as legitimate candidates for the NL MVP.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt
The Diamondbacks couldn’t make it back to the playoffs in 2018, but they still have some proven players, such as Goldschmidt. The 31-year-old is one of the best hitters and all-around first basemen in baseball. A career .297 hitter and a power outlet in the middle of their order, Goldschmidt is the Diamondbacks energizer bunny.
San Francisco Giants: Starting Rotation Depth
Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija are all proven starting pitchers, but they’re injury prone. And the arms behind them such as Derek Holland, Andrew Suarez, Chris Stratton, and Dereck Rodriguez have stabilized the Giants rotation in times of need. Without that depth and reliability, the Giants’ season could be over before it begins.
San Diego Padres: Young Outfielders
In the midst of their ongoing rebuild, the Padres have received competent offensive production from Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot. Renfroe has blasted 52 home runs over the last two seasons, and Margot has been a contact bat in manager Andy Green‘s order; the two outfielders are keepers for the Padres.